Author and noted newspaper editor Alexander (Sandy) Brook posed an interesting thought about January 1 In his book of essays, I Begin Through the Grass: A Maine Journal.
“Late at night, with the roads crisp and still, and snowflakes starting to sift down again over the house, the old pendulum clock on the kitchen wall ticks methodically, like an old man with a cane, assessing what has gone before….These longest nights you do not count the hours, you count the years,” Brooks wrote in the short opening piece titled “Old Clock.”
Oh the years! Seventy-three New Years I’ve experienced, to be exact. The really early ones — who can remember? Then special ones in my teens, singing “Auld Lang Syne” at the Buccaneer Lodge in the Florida Keys with mom and dad, brothers and sister. Later as a Ridgewood, New Jersey housewife, singing the song with dear friends on a surprise trip to Bermuda. Then a few years ago, a personal pinnacle for New Year’s Eve: Mr. Wonderful and I in Sydney, Australia, watching fireworks galore explode over the Harbour Bridge.
More recently, Mr. W. and I are content going to an early movie with pals, eating dinner at a casual restaurant (no hats, no noisemakers, no tuxedos or Spanx Skinny Britches), and home to a well-before-the-ball-drops bedtime. We have become, what folks in New England call people like us, “old fahts.”
But there’s never a New Year’s Day when I don’t stop to reflect on what went well over the past 365 days, what didn’t, and what I could have done to change that, or even try. I remember dear friends and relatives no longer here to laugh, converse and sip with. I always think about what I can do to improve myself because, God knows, there IS room for that.
Get in shape. Save more money. Limit the “dirties.” Count to ten. Practice putting. Organize the junk drawer. Finish knitting the sweater I started two years ago. Read the New Yorker the week it arrives in the mailbox. Curb the finger that gets tempted so easily to fill my Amazon shopping cart. Most of all, carpe diem!
So like the ancient Babylonians who 4000 years ago made promises to their gods, I make a resolution to improve. And that lasts about a week and a half. Two, if I’m lucky. But then again, consider the meaning of the words “resolution” and “promise.” Roget’s handy word book informs me their synonyms are “intention” and “proposal,” “something probable or hopeful.” Hello?
NO WONDER I CAN’T KEEP THEM! They’re not written in stone. No one’s going to put me in Time-Out when I succumb to yet another Amazon Deal of the Day or cut my walk to 7,000 steps. In fact, a CBS News poll from a year ago indicates that 68% of Americans don’t even make resolutions. I feel better already.
Especially with Brook’s closing words: “It takes an effort to turn the year’s corner, to remind ourselves that it’s always darkest before dawn, that the garden profits from the cold, and that birth, faith, hope, life, joy itself are here, this morning on New Year’s Day.”